Overlapping duties, lobbying shaped former Texas Tech chancellor’s last chapter

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Kent Hance
Texas Tech men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie, left, stands next to Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance, right, after a news conference at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas, Wednesday, March 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Zach Long)

Former Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance worked as a lobbyist in Washington and Austin as he drew $20,040 a month from 2014 to 2016 from Tech for being part of a “transitional team” designed to get the new chancellor get acclimated.

Records show Hance, a former state lawmaker and U.S Representative, ceded his title in 2014 and registered as a Beltway lobbyist later in the year.

In 2015, when the Texas Legislature held its biannual session, Hance registered at the first of the year. That year, he reported earnings in Texas of up to $110,000.

According to a retirement agreement between Hance and the university in 2014, his duties for a three-year period — starting in 2014 — were to stay in office until a successor was named. After that, it was understood that he would “perform duties to assist the Chancellor of the System, as well as perform duties as a tenured faculty member…Hance will assist in governmental relations, fundraising, and other duties requested by the chancellor” and “teach his professional and personal leadership seminar course…each long semester during the term.”

He was paid $240,000 annually for these duties. In July 2014 Robert Duncan took over as chancellor. Despite the exposure to conflicts of interest and a time-consuming schedule, Hance worked outside the school with the blessing of the university.

“Regarding his duties here, that would have been for Mr. Hance and Chancellor Duncan to decide,” Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for the Texas Tech University System said. “We trust Mr. Hance’s judgment with regard to conflict of interest and that he will act appropriately.”

“While it makes sense that he would be a lobbyist,” said Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity at Ohio University, “you can’t be a lobbyist and on the payroll of a university in that role without raising questions of conflict of interest.”

“He is commingling these things, and he puts himself in a tough spot,” Vedder said. “There is too much potential for conflict,” including transportation costs as well as lodging and meals.

“I’m not saying he did anything illegal or unethical, but you don’t want those questions out there,” Vedder said.

Hance’s Texas clients include Boyd Gaming, General Motors, booze distributor Glazer’s Inc., AT & T and Silverleaf Resorts, a timeshare company in Dallas.

From July through the end of 2017, Hance was also a registered lobbyist the beleaguered Dallas County Schools. In June, the U.S. Department of Justice raided the home and business of a vendor who had sold Dallas County Schools millions of dollars in school bus cameras. A criminal complaint alleges bribery and kickbacks in connection with the bus camera program at Dallas County Schools.

Voters in November chose to dissolve DCS.

In Washington, Hance represents several groups including an association of pharmaceutical manufacturers, a company selling ecological offsets to corporations, and Waste Control Specialists, a Texas-based operation that disposes of radioactive waste.

His retirement agreement contract stipulated that if  “Hance terminates this agreement prior to the end of the transitional term all obligations of the parties shall cease immediately.”

In September 2016, before the deal was up, Hance again announced his retirement.

Despite the fact that he chose to end the deal before his contract was up, Hance in November 2016 received a check for $153,603.

In his 2016, second retirement letter, Hance asked that he be retained as a tenured professor in the law school. He was not tenured before he came to Tech, a system spokesman said.

Hance, twice defeated as a gubernatorial candidate, is a former Democratic state lawmaker, serving as a senator from 1975 to 1979. In 1979, he was elected to Congress as a representative from Lubbock and served three terms, to 1985. To win the latter office, Hance defeated George H.W. Bush, running as an everyman who knew the issues of struggling rural residents. Hance switched parties and became a Republican in 1986.

Hance was also elected to the Texas Railroad Commission in 1988, serving a single two-year term. In between his stints in elected office, Hance worked as a lobbyist in both Austin and DC. State records show he was a lobbyist in 1998, as far back as records go. That stopped when he became Texas Tech’s chancellor in December 2006.

That same month, Hance’s law firm filed a lobbying report in Washington stating that he would no longer be working as a lobbyist.

“You cannot serve as chancellor and be a lobbyist,” noted Ashworth, the Texas Tech University System spokesman.

Hance did not return an email seeking an interview.

 

Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected]

10 COMMENTS

    • Debbie Baxter he gave 1.75 of the 3 million. From Tech…
      The total project cost is estimated to be more than $3 million, with the majority of the funds provided by Hance. The chapel will be named the Kent R. Hance Chapel, in keeping with the university’s policy that gifts covering more than half of a building’s costs are named in honor of the primary donor.

  1. That is what is wrong with our democracy and elected public figures. Once elected they use the system they help create to enrich themselves; we need term limits; they should wait a longer period-like 5 years- before they use their connections to enrich themselves.
    and their special interests!

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